Buffering, lag, low resolution. We’ve all experienced these video quality problems as viewers. For professional broadcasters, poor-quality videos can have a negative impact on your brand.
Luckily, streaming quality seems to be increasing across the board. Reported video start failures are down 33 percent year-over-year, buffering is down 41 percent and picture quality is up 25 percent. This is all made possible with new and improved technology and updated best practices.
To help you create high-quality live streams, this post takes a look at the technical changes you can make to produce the best live video content. We’ll discuss everything you need to know from choosing the best OVP to the settings to use on your encoder.
Table of Contents
- How to Improve Video Streaming Quality in 8 Steps
- Camera and Live Streaming Equipment
- Live Encoder Settings
- Professional Online Video Platforms
- Choosing the Proper CDN
- Check Upload Speed
- Transcoding and Multi-Bitrate Streaming
- Test Thoroughly
- Use the Right Resolution
How to Improve Live Video Streaming Quality in 8 Steps
When it comes to professional broadcasting, “high quality” and “professional” are nearly synonymous.
There are several measures you can take to ensure that your video quality is the best it can be and that you provide your users with the best experience.
Here are 8 of the most important things to pay attention to in order to improve the quality of your professional broadcast.
1. Camera and Live Streaming Equipment
The streaming equipment that you use will make or break your live stream. Professional broadcasters need professional-grade equipment.
Cell phones and consumer-grade cameras suffice for Twitch and Youtube streamers, but B2B broadcasters should make the investment in top-notch live streaming equipment to provide a top-notch user experience.
It is also important to keep in mind that when your original recording is poor quality, there is nothing you can do to fix it. That’s why using a good quality camera will provide the best possible image at the very beginning of your broadcast.
Full HD or 4K cameras are the best options for professional broadcasting. For an in-depth guide on HD cameras, check out our camera recommendation guide.
2. Live Encoder Settings
An encoder is used to transmit almost all live streams. It is a software or hardware tool that transcodes your live video into streaming compatible formats. Transcoding your content is what allows it to transmit to your online video platform to stream live or on-demand to your viewers.
Here are our recommended live encoder settings:
|VIDEO CODEC||H.264 (x264 may work)|
|FRAME RATE||25 or 30|
|KEYFRAME INTERVAL||2 secs (or 2x frame rate)|
|ENCODING BITRATE||Constant (CBR)|
|AUDIO BITRATE||128 kbps|
|AUDIO CHANNELS||2 (Stereo)|
|AUDIO SAMPLE RATE||48 kHz (48,000 Hz)|
These settings are required for live streaming with Dacast, regardless of your selected resolution and bitrate. There is often a sweet spot that is determined by the size of the video you are streaming and what your viewers’ internet connection will withstand.
Also please note that for best quality live streaming, we recommend using a hardware encoder.
There are other important encoder settings like video resolution, video bitrate, and audio bitrate. For recommendations on these values, read our full guide to live streaming encoder settings.
Professional Online Video Platforms
Maximize your video streaming quality by selecting the right online video platform (OVP). An OVP provides streaming solutions for managing and hosting video content. They usually also provide other tools for monetization, security, and so on.
There are three features to look for that will help you maintain high-quality streams.
- CDN: How is the OVP’s content distribution network?
- Resolution: Look for an OVP that allows you to broadcast in full 1080P HD.
- Support: Choose an OVP that offers 24/7 customer support so that you don’t find yourself in a pinch without anybody to help you troubleshoot.
Dacast is a great streaming solution that offers all of these useful features. You can learn more about the full range of features that we offer on our website.
4. Choosing the Proper CDN
As we touched upon in the OVP section, the CDN platform that your OVP uses makes a world of difference in your viewers’ experience.
A CDN, or content distribution network, is the system of proxy servers that are used to distribute content. The best video hosting platforms integrate with powerful CDNs. Look for an OVP that uses a large, top-tier content delivery network.
You want to choose a CDN that has a decent-sized distribution network. More than 100,000 servers are ideal. This will help you bring high-quality streaming to viewers in a wider geographical region.
5. Check Upload Speed
When you broadcast streaming video, you need sufficient internet speed to sustain the streaming. For live video, your upload bandwidth should be at least twice your broadcast bitrate.
To determine your broadcast bitrate, add your video bitrate to your audio bitrate. If you are broadcasting in multi-bitrates, add all of them together.
Here are a few more recommendations for getting the most out of your connection:
- If possible, use a wired Ethernet connection. WiFi can be unstable.
- If you must use WiFi, move close to the router to ensure a clear signal.
- Close unnecessary web browsers and applications to free up bandwidth.
- Remove other devices from the network. Every additional device on a network draws more bandwidth.
- If necessary, purchase a faster internet plan.
Remember, for broadcasters the upload speed may be more important than download speed.
6. Transcoding and Multi-Bitrate Streaming
Another way that your OVP can influence video streaming quality is through transcoding and multi-bitrate streaming.
Modern video players are adaptive. This means that they automatically detect the viewer’s internet speed and adjust accordingly. For a viewer on a slow connection, they’ll deliver a lower quality video. For those on a fast connection, the video quality will be higher.
This is dependent on your OVP offering transcoding and multi-bitrate streaming. Multi-bitrate streaming refers to the process of sending a live stream out in multiple different qualities at once. Transcoding does a similar thing, but for VOD. Plus, transcoding happens in the cloud.
If you want to improve video streaming quality, make sure your OVP supports these features.
7. Test Thoroughly
Streaming video has a lot of moving parts, so testing before you start your stream is a great idea. Knowing what to look for when testing is half of the battle.
Use these questions as a guide for your pre-stream testing:
- Test video embeds on your website. Does everything look correct?
- If using multi-bitrate streaming, test video quality at different bitrate levels. Are different levels available and viewable?
- Test videos on both slow and fast internet connections. Is buffering minimal?
- Conduct a test transitioning from fast to slow internet. Does the video player adapt?
- Do some stress testing for encoders, cameras, and other live streaming equipment. Will equipment fail under load?
- Test your total workflow. Make a test live stream and broadcast privately. Does everything work properly?
If your software and equipment do well with all of these tests, you should be good to go.
8. Use the Right Resolution
We mentioned earlier about choosing the best setting for your encoder, but we left out any mention of resolution settings. Resolution and video aspect ratios are so important they need a section of its own.
Choosing the perfect resolution requires a bit of a trade-off. Naturally, you want to use the highest video resolution possible so that your viewers have a crystal clear view of your video. However, the “highest resolution” does not equal the “best resolution” when it comes to live streaming.
You want a resolution that provides a clear image without being too big to transmit without lagging. Professional broadcasters typically opt for 1280 x 720 pixels (720p), 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p).
As a broadcaster, maximizing the quality of your broadcasts is a must. This post should give you a decent grip on how to improve your stream quality.
These are only a few of the suggested methods for dealing with the most common video streaming quality problems, but you can pop onto the Dacast streaming knowledgebase for more articles on all things streaming.
CTA TEXT: When you are planning to invest in a powerful streaming solution, it makes sense to try before you buy. You can also try Dacast risk-free for 30 days by signing up now. No credit card required.
Do you have further questions or comments about broadcasting with Dacast and implementing these best practices? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
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